After Game 2 lapse for second straight series, Celtics stress need for consistent effort on defense


Boston had its worst defensive performance of the postseason in Thursday’s loss to the Cavaliers.

Al Horford and the Celtics couldn’t keep Evan Mobley from racking up 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists in Thursday’s Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers.

For the second series in a row, the Celtics followed a Game 1 win with a lackluster defensive effort in Game 2.

Boston had its worst defensive performance of the postseason in Thursday night’s 118-94 loss to the Cavaliers. It was just the second time in seven postseason games that the Celtics had given up more than 100 points.

Celtics guard Jrue Holiday said the lapse had more to do with Boston’s effort than its strategy.

“I think it was just a little bit of effort and concentration,” Holiday said. “Not concentrating on the things we had gone over in the game plan and not executing.”

The Celtics adjusted quickly after giving up a franchise playoff record 23 3-pointers to the Heat in Game 2. Miami never scored 90 points in a game the rest of the series.

But Jaylen Brown said the Celtics can’t afford to think they’ll be able to just flip the switch again. There needs to be a more consistent effort.

“It’s a new series. It’s a new game,” Brown said. “We can’t expect it to go the same way. We’ve got to establish what we want and we’ve got to come out and be the harder playing team.”

Tatum off the mark

Jayson Tatum’s recent shooting struggles didn’t seem to affect his mood much at shootaround Saturday morning. Tatum smiled as he put up shots and chatted with assistant coaches. He even showed off a couple of dance moves while sitting on the scorer’s table.

Tatum is shooting 39 percent (14 for 36) from the field this series, including 2 for 10 from 3-point range. He has yet to score 30 points in a game this postseason.

Tatum’s shooting hasn’t lived up to his lofty standards, but he has found other ways to impact the game. He’s leading the Celtics in rebounds (10) and assists (5.4) per game.

“Just keep playing,” Brown said. “I think over the course of the playoffs, over the course of all of that stuff, it’ll even itself out. But focus on the game. Each game has a different story, and just stay locked in on that, and I think he will be fine.

“Jayson is one of the best players in the world. So, it’s a part of that. Teams draw coverages to make you get uncomfortable; just take it for what it is, and you make the right play.”

Brown was asked what the Celtics could do to free Tatum for better looks.

“I think getting out in transition and getting some stops, I think that helps,” Brown said. “Last game, we didn’t really get enough stops, and we got outrebounded. So, I think that helps.

“If we get some stops, get out in transition, but also other ways that we can get ourselves going is crash and getting offensive rebounds, the little plays, getting steals, staying involved on defense, making plays at the rim. Those are ways to get yourself going rather than relying on others.”

Bittersweet feelings

Holiday said he had mixed feelings about Charles Lee’s upcoming departure.

Lee, the top assistant on the Celtics’ coaching staff, was named coach of the Hornets on Thursday.

“I was really happy. Sad to see him go, but extremely happy,” Holiday said. “He deserves it. I’ve been with him for a minute now, so to see him as a head coach and to beat him every time that we play him is going to be great.”

Lee and Holiday spent three seasons together and won a title in Milwaukee before reuniting in Boston this season.

“Just hugged him, told him I loved him, and how happy I was for him because obviously we’ve been through a lot together,” Holiday said. “So, to see even before when there was kind of a chance for him to be a head coach and him not get it but to see it now I think the timing might be right. You’re just happy for your guys, you know.”

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